In Country Not Seen in Daylight

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2021


2. In country not seen in daylight. Three firefighters carrying tools walk in the dark.  Their headlamps illuminate a large brush in front of them.

2. In country not seen in daylight.

Firefighting resources are often called to respond to fires at night in unfamiliar terrain. This Watch Out shows firefighters working at night in an area they are seeing for the first time which requires extra attention to surroundings and caution while working.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

Often, firefighters arrive on a fire after dark, addressed by Watch Out Situation #2. Before safely fighting fire in country not seen in daylight, firefighters must answer the following questions:

  • Can the resources you are replacing give you a thorough briefing? Identify where you can get information. Can you meet up with the departing overhead/resource leaders?
  • Can you observe the area or use scouts? List ways you could observe the work area.
  • Have escape routes and safety zones been thoroughly scouted and marked for night use? Talk about what constitutes an escape route and a safety zone. Who would identify them and in what ways might they be marked?
  • Have potential dangers been located? Can they be mitigated? What are the dangers associated with working in unfamiliar country in the dark? How can they be mitigated?
  • Reduce the risks by:
    • Posting lookouts.
    • Checking communications.
    • Retreating if you have doubts about your escape routes or safety zones or the situation becomes too complex.
      • Give examples of arriving on a fire after dark and what was done to allow you to fight fire safely in country not seen in daylight.
    • Identifying prominent geographic features.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center


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